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Malachiii knows joy. Over the last few years, the young singer, rapper, and producer from Southern California has demonstrated an affection for elastic flows, buoyant rhythms, and melodies lit by a magic-hour glow. This ecstatic energy has made his take on pop, rap, and R&B infectious, but what’s made it most special is his willingness to engage in heavy themes with a maturity and grace that belies his age. On songs like “Love Me,” his debut single with Motown Records, he sings with a mellifluous falsetto and spits grinning bars, but he also ponders big questions: Will his love stick around as he gets old? When it rains and snows? When he makes mistakes?

At 25, Malachiii is coming into his own both as an artist and a person. After years of writing songs, he’s come to understand that while his ultimate goal is to emit “love, light, positivity, and good vibes,” it’s most important to stay true to the real depths of his experience, even if it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. “Music is a reflection of someone’s life when it’s done in the honest and right way,” he says. “My whole goal is for my music to represent who I am as a human being. It comes pretty easily in that way, when you’re writing and just being yourself.”

The man born Malachi Cohen has been uninhibited from the start. His earliest memory is sliding on his knees into the living room and ripping a toy guitar solo for his parent’s guests. “I had the entertainer bug early,” he laughs. Growing up with an actor as a dad and Broadway dancer as a mom placed him in environments where his imagination was fostered without kid gloves. He took to all sorts of instruments as a child, but his first true love was dance. When Malachiii was 12, his mom founded a musical theater school for children, where he was encouraged to develop as an actor, dancer, and singer. So he did, and it didn’t take long to pay off.

Malachiii booked his first professional gig at 14 as a performer on GRAMMY-winning composer A.R. Rahman’s A Journey Home world tour. He was the only kid amongst acclaimed musicians, but he did not wilt—soaking up everything he observed “like a sponge” and owning the stages at iconic venues such as The O2 and Wembley. “I stood on that stage and told myself, ‘The next time I come back, it’s gotta be me,’” he remembers. “That became my barometer.” Feeling empowered and inspired, Malachiii began writing and producing his own music.

As simply “Malachi,” he released carefree and confident singles. 2017’s “Do It My Way” brags about turning up on a Tuesday and unfollowing anyone who gets in the way of his good time, but by 2020, he had added two “i”s to his name to symbolize a third eye—deeper perception. While the confidence and optimism remain, his evolution is reflected in singles “I Gotta Know” and “WYM?!,” which mirror growth with intricate production, deft trap beats, and heavier drops.

Malachiii’s ability to translate relatable emotions into hooks earned him a publishing deal with Electric Feel (Post Malone, Iann Dior, 24KGoldn), which only bolstered his writing and producing efforts. In late 2020, Malachiii was again abroad—on the rooftop of a luxurious penthouse in Florence, Italy, to be exact—when he learned he was getting signed to the iconic Motown Records and had a true shot at fulfilling the goal he set when he was on tour as a teen. Now, beginning with “Love Me,” he’s stepping into the spotlight in his own right, with the hope that his artistry will continue to resonate with listeners. “There’s very few people who have a transcendent impact on music, humanity, and culture as a whole,” he says. “That’s the type of artist I want to be.”